Where the investigations related to President Donald Trump stand and what may lie ahead for him:
WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT?
Trump is facing criminal investigations in Washington and New York.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. Trump also plays a central role in a separate case in New York, where prosecutors have implicated him in a crime. They say Trump directed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW TODAY?
President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr, sent an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department this year criticizing parts of the Mueller probe as “fatally misconceived”.
The 20-page memo, sent in June while Barr was in private practice and months before he was selected by Trump for the Justice Department job, may prompt questions about his ability to oversee the special counsel’s investigation fairly.
The document argues that there could be disastrous consequences for the Justice Department and the presidency if Mueller were to conclude that acts a president is legally permitted to take – such as firing an FBI director – could constitute obstruction of justice, just because someone concludes that there was corrupt intent.
SO … DID THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN COLLUDE WITH RUSSIA?
There is no smoking gun when it comes to the question of Russia collusion. But the evidence so far shows a broad range of Trump associates had Russia-related contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition period, and that several lied about the communication.
There is also evidence that some people in the president’s orbit were discussing a possible email dump from WikiLeaks before it occurred. American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that was damaging to Clinton’s presidential effort.
OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
–WHAT ABOUT OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE? That is another unresolved question that Mueller is pursuing. Investigators have examined key episodes such as Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his fury over the recusal from the investigation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
–WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS? Trump has repeatedly slammed the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and insisted there was “NO COLLUSION” with Russia. He also says his now-former lawyer, Cohen, lied to get a lighter sentence in New York.